By Alina Selyukh
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Cox Communications Inc [COXC.UL] is not interested in merging with wireless carrier T-Mobile US Inc or rival cable providers, Cox President Pat Esser said on Tuesday, dispelling rumors recently swirling about the private company.
"We're not in any discussions to buy T-Mobile," Esser told Reuters. "I don't see a movement inside of our company that we feel like we have to pony up or match up with a wireless company."
Asked whether Cox, the third-largest U.S. cable and broadband company, was considering a merger with one of its smaller cable rivals, such as Charter Communications Inc or perennial takeover target Cablevision Systems Corp, Esser said family-owned Cox was not looking to become a publicly traded company.
"I would never say we'll never be public in the future. But right now where the family's at, where [parent company] Cox Enterprises is at, they like being private," Esser said. "We have a very, very healthy balance sheet, we have a lot of capacity and we can do most of that inside of our current balance sheet and still remain private."
Continuing a year marked by a whirlwind of dealmaking among telecom companies, sources told Reuters earlier this month that Iliad, a French telecom firm, was in talks with U.S. satellite and cable operators Cox, Charter and Dish Networks Corp regarding a potential joint bid for U.S. wireless carrier T-Mobile.
Esser said that instead, he saw the future of Cox Communications in wi-fi offerings and connectivity services, such as home security.
"Wireless use of broadband is growing but it's not through traditional cellular services, it's wi-fi. Wi-fi is exploding," Esser said. "Wi-fi is the future ... Connected homes are the future."
Esser spoke with Reuters on the sidelines of an event in Washington, where he announced that Cox would extend for two years its commitment to a broadband adoption program known as Connect2Compete, which offers discounted prices for high-speed Internet connections to low-income families with school children.
(This version of the story was corrected to remove reference to Bloomberg report on potential Charter merger, which was last year, not earlier this month.)
(Reporting by Alina Selyukh, editing by Ros Krasny, Bernard Orr)